It’s Almost The End Of The Year?!

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2014 has been incredible… there have been SO many transitions. Some were welcomed and others were dreaded. Every year, December looks like the finish line for me. It’s the exclamation point at the end of a run-on sentence. It’s the last drop of a much-needed drink. It’s the familiar eye-contact between two strangers.

I’m 50% full of anticipation for the promises of a New Year, and 50% slamming on the breaks to make sure I accomplish all that I set out to do this year, tie up lose ends and close & deadlock doors that were meant to be shut. So here is what I intend to do with the last month of this year:

1. Finish up end of the year docs, reports and applications for work. We’ve been doing a lot of internal work at Donda’s House – business plan & grant writing, goal-setting, etc. The goal is get everything done by 12/31.

2. Put a dent in my “to scrapbook” bin. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I only spent 3 days scrapbooking this year. I went away for a 3 day scrapbooking retreat with some of my “scrap sisters,” and that was pretty much the only scrapbooking I’ve done this year.

3. Set personal and family goals for 2015. I believe in personal goals, but I also believe in collective goals. Hubby and I have been doing that for two years. We review our progress from the previous year and set goals for the next year.

4. Clean, purge, & donate. I always clean my house top to bottom. It’s important to get rid of clutter and make space for new things. This also includes digital clutter, and I try to get my inbox down to inbox zero to start the new year fresh.

5. Hang out with loved ones. Of course I enjoy the holidays because it’s all about spending time with family, but I also like to connect with my friends. I am very much looking forward to celebrating 2014 with my girls!

Here are the tools that I recommend as you reflect on this year and plan for next year:

31 Days to Reset Your Life – http://happyblackwoman.com/31dayreset/

Create a Vision Board – http://donnienicole.com/2013/12/27/big-reveal-my-vision-board-for-2014/

Conduct an Annual Review http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/how-to-conduct-your-own-annual-review/ This is the most thorough goal-setting planner I’ve ever seen. If you love details, check this out!

I still have words for Ferguson. For now, please visit my Twitter Account: http://twitter.com/blkgrlunmasked to see my commentary since the verdict. I also had my first TV appearance today on WTTW Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” I’ll have a longer post on Black Friday about Ferguson.

What are your rituals and traditions for closing out the current year and ushering in the new one? I’d love to hear what you do.

Peace

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Is It Time To Just Turn The Lights Off?

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“Everybody deals with adversity different… you seem to just turn the lights off and keep it moving.”

My husband has a front row seat to everything that happens to me… good, bad and ugly, and his observation was interesting.

When it comes to dealing with stress, frustrations and disappointment, we all have our own approach.

My approach in most cases, is to just cut the circuit to whatever is fueling the pain. Sometimes the “shut off” is temporary, sometimes its permanent, but in order to function in most cases I just literally stop the flow of energy. Stopping the flow could mean cutting off communication with the individual. It could mean physically removing myself from the environment. Or it could mean just telling someone that I’m done, or as Big Sean so eloquently put it, “I.D.F.WU.”

I don’t process my feelings very quickly. I usually need time to really think about how I feel, why I feel and what, if anything I need to do to feel better. I also have come across too many people in life who react immediately to feelings and cause further damage or harm. The thing about words is they can’t be taken back. Once they are spoken they are real! That is not to say that you can’t apologize for something that was said, it just can’t change the fact that it was said… even if you only meant it for an hour, a day, a week.

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The other quote that I live by is, “you don’t have to attend every argument that you’re invited to.” When people are unhappy, insecure, frustrated, they lash out… often toward the people who have nothing to do with their real issue. The people who are closest to them feel the wrath. In those cases, it is easy to get drawn in to the argument. My approach is generally to ignore such lashing out… especially when I know I haven’t said or done anything to warrant the attack. It may take some time, but eventually, the person or the problem just disappears. Often they find another person or thing to turn their attention to.

I have had some bad things happen to me, and though I’ve literally been knocked down by things, I’m never on the ground very long. My resilience comes from the fact that I’ve had no choice but to be strong. If I stayed laying on the ground, I might not be able to jump up fast enough to catch the next blessing. Sometimes being strong is the only choice you have… What I’m saying is that if something or someone is causing you pain… the best thing you can do is cut the power, until you figure out your next move.

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Survive Your First 90 Days As An Entrepreneur…

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On the outside looking in, it’s sexy! I come across people all the time who say, “I WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR!”

They say…

“You get to “wake up” whenever you want to!”

“You get to work from home?!”

“You’re the BOSS!!!”

It’s officially been 90 days, and I hate to burst your bubble but being an entrepreneur is the most difficult job you’ll ever have in your life!

As a teacher, I had to wake up at 6 am every day, to clock in by 8:00 and be ready for the bell shortly after. Now I don’t wake up that early, it’s mostly around 8 or 9 am, and I don’t start working until around 10 am, but when I start working, I usually don’t stop until 10 p.m., 12 a.m. When we were working on the AAHH! Fest, I slept about one hour for three weeks!

I work harder now as an entrepreneur than I did as a teacher, because I am the Chief Financial Officer, The HR Coordinator, The Event Planner, The Development Director, The Chief Operating Officer, everything. Essentially I am the Principal, The Teacher, The Parent, The Student, The Janitor, basically a whole entire school wrapped into one but the truth is I love it, and wouldn’t trade my job for anything.

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Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak, the lazy, the complainer, the blamer, the hater, the “I just want a vacationer,” or “I just want to travel the world-er.” Most days you have to suck it up, because you are the electricity to the whole operation. As Pearl Duck said “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

Most companies don’t become million dollar companies overnight, and in the non-profit world very few people take you seriously (especially those who offer grants), until you’ve been in existence for three years, not to mention the IRS can take up to 18 months to approve your tax-exempt status, and while your cause may be very noble, you learn very quickly how to barter services, make lots of new friends, and master your elevator pitch…

“Patience is a form of action…” was placed on my inspiration board in December of 2013, long before I became a full-time entrepreneur. Patience is one of those non-negotiable traits for business-owners and founders because you have to have it with other people, with projects, with fundraising and most of all with yourself…

I think I’ll get “I Survived My First 90 Days as an Entrepreneur” tatted on my chest (in invisible ink), because as with all jobs, the probationary period is over. By all measurements, Donda’s House is exactly where it should be (and in many areas we are off the charts in terms of our metrics), and the perfectionist (overachiever) in me, just keeps moving that target higher and higher. But even beyond that, the alternative (a world without Donda’s House), is just unacceptable to me. I can’t even fathom that…

As I said in the beginning, please keep me in your prayers & thoughts, and I will try my hardest to give you more frequent live updates from the battlefield!

With Love,

The Executive Director of Donda’s House Inc.

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It’s Time For Us To Turn Off The Noise & Turn Up (The Frequency)!

I came across the pic on Instagram:

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I immediately thought of one of my favorite Outkast songs “Slum Beautiful” where they say “Hey girl, what’s your frequency/ and can I come there frequently…” I also thought back to the AAHH! Fest where as the EARLY SHOW stage manager, I had to wear a walkie talkie. The interesting thing about the walkie talkie was that if I wasn’t on the same channel as someone else, we couldn’t communicate… So… what do Outkast and Walkie-Talkies have to do with the point of this post… we have to go back to High School Chemistry…

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All matter (including the human body) is composed of atoms and all atoms vibrate. The higher you vibrate… the more energy you produce… the more momentum you create… the more power you have. Without going too deep into the science of it all, sometimes we have to turn down (or off) the noise and turn up the frequency.

The noise is anything or anyone that is keeping you from fulfilling your purpose and destiny. It could include dream chillers and killers, those folks who never have anything positive to say about your goals or your ambition. It could include people who purposefully aren’t on the same channel that you’re on… those whose life trajectory is very different from yours (perhaps even polar opposite). Those who don’t seem to bring anything valuable to your life and perhaps, may even be taking things away from your life. The noise can even be yourself… that mean little voice that creates doubt and insecurity about who you are and where you’re headed.  Are you creating so much noise (drama, mess, paralyzing fear) in your life that you can’t get things done? When we think of noise, we don’t think of pleasant sounds… we think of a distraction, an intrusion, and discomfort. Today. not tomorrow, it’s time to off the noise and if you can’t turn it off, at least turn it on and turn up the FREQUENCY.

The higher the frequency (in sound) the more times a sound wave goes from a cycle from positive to negative to positive again. There are some frequencies that are inaudible to the human ear… my goal is to be so spiritually aligned that I’m operating on that level frequency…

I started this post with Outkast, and I’ll end it with them too… “Vibrate”

“Every boy and girl, woman to man/ when you feel you’ve done about the best you can/ mother *** the wagon come join the band/ vibrate higher…” Let’s vibrate at a higher frequency ya’ll, starting right now!

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Do You Know Your Purpose?

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Photo Caption: Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman (my #1 role model, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund) and I.

Faith is my compass. It is the thing/person that I turn to direct my path. Everyone has a different compass, for some, their compass is money. For others, their compass is a romantic relationship. The compass is what compels you. Whatever keeps you up at night or jolts you out of your sleep. The purpose of this post, however, is to talk about purpose.

On most days, I start my day with a bible reading and daily devotional. Currently I am reading “Hearing From God Each Morning” by Joyce Meyer in the free Bible app. You can read more about the Bible App & why I try to start my day with God’s word here: http://donnienicole.com/2013/08/07/how-i-start-my-day-off-right/. Today’s post was inspired by today’s reading, as well as an Inbox Conversation I recently had with one of my students who is struggling with figuring out her purpose and what she wants to do with her life…

So how do you determine your purpose? For most people, their purpose becomes whatever they are good at OR whatever they enjoy doing… If people are good at math, they think, my purpose is to become an accountant. If people enjoy writing, they think, my purpose is to become an author or journalist. While I totally understand that logic, there is a critical component of the purpose equation that many of us are missing. Sister Joyce Meyer says, “When people work in jobs where they are not gifted, they are miserable – and so is everyone around them. But when people are in their proper places, they excel in their jobs and be a blessing to their employees and coworkers.” When you’ve found your purpose, it is a blessing not only to you, but you are a blessing to others. Sister Joyce Meyer continues “If we do what we are good at doing, we will sense God’s anointing (presence and power) on our efforts. We will know we are operating in our gift and that doing so honors God and ministers life to others. God speaks to us through this anointing, giving us peace and joy to know we are fulfilling his plan for our lives.” Just because you are good at something, or enjoy something, does not necessarily mean that is your purpose. In most cases, we are all blessed with certain strengths and certain weaknesses. In the same way that every fingerprint is unique, so are our gifts.

If you are struggling with figuring our your purpose, ask yourself these questions:

(1) What are the skills or actions I am constantly complimented on? (Are you a good listener? Are you extremely patient? Do people walk into your home and instantly compliment you on the decor or energy?)

(2) What do I do in my life right now, that I would do for free because I love it so much?

(3) Which classes did I enjoy the most in school? Which were my least favorite? Why?

(4) What would my perfect day look like (be sure to describe your perfect work day? What would I be doing? (Check out this post where I created my ideal daily schedule! Believe it or not, this IS my schedule now, a little over a year later!)

(5) What do you do that seems super easy? Goes incredibly smooth and brings you much joy? (When God is blessing you, there is little to no effort or struggle on your end. It feels like a “good luck” streak, or like a dream that you are actually living.)

Free Myer’s Briggs Type Indicator Test (scientifically based and universally accepted as a solid test for figuring out your personality type & the type of career path you should take): http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Multiple Intelligences Self Assessment (another universally accepted test to learn more about yourself): http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

If you have questions or want me to go into something a little deeper, please leave a comment!

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It’s Been Too Long!!!

I thought about updating DonnieNicole.com with a profound reflective piece, but then decided to do a list instead. Here is my list:

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  • Digging: Mickalene Thomas… http://mickalenethomas.com She uses rhinestones and glitter in her work. I’m pretty sure her stuff has a hefty price tag but I’m committed to buying one of her pieces in my lifetime!!!
  • Not Digging: Talking about problems… I only want to talk about solutions… My favorite quote is “don’t bring me your problems, bring me your proposals.”
  • Drinking: Lots of hot tea – either green or black. Fall was made for hot drinks, cuddles and boots!
  • Eating: Deli sandwiches.
  • Watching: Junk TV, and trying to figure out how I can get my hands on the Beyonce HBO Special that came on about the On The Run Tour… I don’t have HBO.
  • Wearing: my new jeans from Express… I love Express!
  • ReadingManaging the Non-Profit Organization by Peter Drucker. http://www.amazon.com/Managing-Nonprofit-Organization-Peter-Drucker/dp/0060851147. I’d really like to read one non-fiction book a weak.
  • Feeling: Excited about October & November! Something big is happening for Donda’s House Inc. this month (I can’t talk about it publicly yet!) and in November I’m going to Mumbai, India for the first time and and hubby & I are taking a much needed vacation as well as going to a wedding.
  • Weather: FALL!!! My FAVE!
  • Wanting: I’m absolutely content! There isn’t anything that I want right now…
  • Needing: More funding resources for Donda’s House Inc.! If you know of any grants, please forward them our way!
  • Wishing: for a personal trainer… Anyone willing to make me their project until Spring? Maybe we can barter some services lol!
  • Hoping: for a healthy pregnancy sometime soon. I had my second pregnancy ever end in a second miscarriage at the end of August. I was 7 weeks. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 5 months. Keep me & our entire family in your thoughts and prayers. I haven’t given up hope yet!
  • Thinking: of a master plan lol…
  • Enjoying: my husband! I love him so much! Our 5 year wedding anniversary is coming up…
  • Loving: My free Bible App and the daily devotions from Joyce Meyer called “Hearing from God Each Morning.”

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We are Asking the Wrong Question in Ferguson

I couldn’t sleep tonight. The ghosts of black men who have been murdered by police (or police-posers) were haunting me. So I took my grievances to twitter

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I’ve watched countless hours of footage, read hundreds of social media posts daily and I’ve come to the conclusion that to ask “Who killed Mike Brown?” is the wrong question. The question should be “What killed Mike Brown?” 

Racism is a learned behavior. On the surface, the solution would be education. The problem with that solution is that the learned behavior is institutionalized. Whether we are talking about the disparities in the criminal justice system or the classroom, racism is alive and well in America. My fear about the situation in Ferguson, is that we are getting too wrapped up in the individual case. Of course Mike Brown’s murderer needs to be brought to justice, but IF and WHEN that happens, it is not a cause for celebration because the fight is not over. That is only the beginning! The best way that we can honor the life of Mike Brown is to prevent as many black men (and black women, and Latinos) from suffering the same fate. We need to attack WHAT killed Mike Brown, which was institutional racism. It is the same thing that killed Eric Gardner, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo and Fred Hampton. We cannot be nearsighted in our fight for justice, and we cannot be farsighted when we think of all of those who we’ve lost to this SOCIAL (e.g. FIXABLE) reality. 

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Institutional change requires a look at policy (laws), policy makers (the people who create the laws), public institutions (like schools), and protocol (the use of force, the investigation of complaints, etc). Institutional change rarely happens because of one case or event. It examines patterns and trends. It connects the dots. Institutional change would force us to connect Fred Hampton to Trayvon Martin to Renisha McBride to Eric Gardner. Institutional change does not just affect an individual family or community, it SHIFTS an entire state, an entire country, the entire world! Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson from 1896. That institutional change took 58 years and even after the laws were enacted, it took another 3 or so years for institutions to actually obey the law (hence the Little Rock 9). Institutional change takes time and it includes the work of activists, attorneys, educators, journalists, artists – a cross-section of the community working together toward the same goal(s). 

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“Don’t shoot” looks really cute on a t-shirt, but we have to DIG in to the United States constitution, we have to be specific and articulate exactly what needs to change and we have to be consistent, persistent and RELENTLESS about changing WHAT killed Mike Brown… “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

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